Photo of fundraisers in the mountains, purple quote graphic

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves

Why do I love the mountains? Maybe it's because my family are from the Welsh Hills. Maybe it's because I love the shape and light of the landscape as you climb pushing yourself on and upward?

As I climb my feelings become so clear. The higher I go the stronger I feel. My past struggles seem to become a distant memory. It seems that anything is possible.

We decided to climb Scafell Pike in 2017 for the National Autistic Society. I did this climb with my parents. I was due to move into supported living in the Spring. This was a huge step and we thought we would try to raise awareness of autism, alongside taking on a challenge for the National Autistic Society. My parents did some talks too! Local charities and I did an article for the local newspaper. I spoke about mindfulness and how I had learnt techniques from watching Star Wars and the Jedi Masters! My article found its way to America.

Raising the sponsorship money wasn't as hard as we thought. We had a music event in our garden, a sunny day with friends and family. The donations came in from many sources and from families who had read my article, some total strangers who were autistic or had friends and family on the spectrum.

The Scafell Pike climb was really tough physically but the support was always there. I think my parents became legends in National Autistic Society history that day. It's a very personal adventure and was a turning point for me.

However, it was the Ben Nevis challenge which was the toughest both emotionally and physically. My aunt offered to do the climb with me. Once again the donations came in and we did a car boot sale and I sold some books and DVDs.

I work outside and walk everywhere so I wasn't worried about my fitness. My aunt also is used to physical challenges.

The day before the climb we stood and looked at Ben Nevis and the surrounding hills. I had no fear, just determination and excitement. I knew we would be well supported and was looking forward to seeing my friends from the National Autistic Society events team.

The day of the climb, we had all our kit, food, water and climbing poles! My parents waved us off, they trusted the people I was with.

As we started our ascent it began to feel cold and the rain started. My aunt and myself spent time talking and keeping each other going. This mountain wasn't going to beat us! The weather got worse, it was slippy underfoot and we couldn't see. Our mountain guides kept a close eye on the groups. Some of the walkers turned back but we just couldn't fail those who had sponsored us. I encouraged others and thought of my footsteps leaving their memory on the mountain, going where others had gone.

As we reached the top the temperature dropped to -10 degrees, we ate a soggy sandwich and didn't have much time to stop as the weather was getting worse. The descent bought different emotions. We were so tired and cold. However, the only way was down.

I forged a bond with my aunt up that mountain and she says she got to know the real me. I never doubted myself and I valued her calm and encouraging manner.

The welcome as we came over the bridge from my parents and the team was very emotional. I was sad it was over but exhilarated.

I am going back to my Welsh roots in August with my aunt and uncle to climb Snowdon for the National Autistic Society. We have raised money through donations and another car boot sale. This challenge will have a different meaning. My Grandad, who was from the hills of Wales, died last year. This climb will be to honour his memory and his love of life. I won't stop climbing in life. I now look ahead and feel I can do anything.

James.

This account was described by James and written with the support of Judith and Ceri.

Thank you to everyone we have met along the way.

 

Trek with Team Autism

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